How Do I Decide How Much Pasture And Grazing Is Required For Horses

by Sarah Macey

This is a common question I come across. Opinions can differ, but you will generally find that the average pasture will provide approximately two horses per hectare as permanent grazing or 1-1.5 acres per individual horse, that is of course, provided good pasture management is employed.

This is what is considered a minimum acreage requirement for the average horse, but there a number of different things to take in to consideration and they are:

The acreage required per horse or pony will depend, primarily on the type of pasture and the general management of the horses concerned not forgetting the grazing quality and pasture management capabilities of the keeper.

Sometimes, more horses may be kept with a larger acreage, for example, ten acres could support more than ten horses, provided the acreage is sub-divided and effective management and husbandry is employed.

There is quite a difference between acreage requirements for horses where the grassland is to provide total grazing as opposed to where it is only to provide supplementary grazing or turnout exercise.

In the combined system of land management, where the horses are stabled for part of the time, one acre per horse may be more than adequate. You will find, even where suitable pasture is available, stabling the horse helps reduce the effects of long term grazing, giving the grass and ground a chance to recover.

Certain horses, such as those suffering from obesity, may require grazing to be restricted considerably to avoid serious health problems, such as laminitis.

In such circumstances, a quarter to half an acre of mediocre grazing may be appropriate in order to manage such a situation. In all circumstances, stock densities must take individual animals spatial requirements into consideration, in order to reduce the chances of fighting or bullying where several animals are turned out together.

The Stable Doctor
Advice is given without legal responsibility

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